Great school (or any other great organization) is always a team effort. You cannot have one good teacher and hope he will take the entire educational institution to new heights, just as you cannot hope a single motivated manager will turn failure into success in a corporate environment. Sure, individual people have achieved great feats in their life, but it is more an exception than a rule… Hence interviewing for any job in education (and any job in a corporate world) you will face at least one question about teamwork. In this post I will try to analyze one of the more difficult questions from this group.
Without wasting too much of your time with lengthy opening, let’s more straight to 7 sample answers. You will find on my list answers for both teachers and corporate employees, answers for experienced managers but also for fresh graduates applying for their very first job. I hope at least one of them will resonate with you and with the message you hope to convey in the interviews. Enjoy the list, and do not forget to read also the final word, making sure you will avoid making the same mistakes as many job seekers do when dealing with this question.
7 sample answers to “Please provide details of a last time you worked as a part of a successful team” interview question
- Last time was in my previous teaching job. We were on the same page with administrators and counselors, had great meetings, and everyone followed the same goal. In the span of five years we manged to reduce the dropout rate by 50%, and the school got the best ratings in the district. But there was more than numbers can tell. Individual stories of children who overcame adversity and graduated against all odds, teachers and other staff members that enjoyed going to the job, and so on. I am proud and grateful for this experience, and sincerely hope I can apply what I learned there in my new teaching job.
- I always say that success is relative. Doesn’t matter if we look at individual life or an organization. Whether or not you consider yourself successful depends on who you measure yourself against. In my opinion though, the only meaningful benchmark is our “past self”. And if I take it as a benchmark, I worked as a part of a successful team in my last sales job. With me onboard, we manged to grow our sales volume by 30% annually. And while I believe it was a success, especially considering the current economic climate, the organization still didn’t survive the pressure from big players, and we were all left jobless. But I know I gave my best for the team, and have no regrets. Now I am looking to join another great team in your corporation. And if it isn’t great, I want to help to make it such!
- This is my first ever job application, so I cannot talk about an experience from work. But I believe my family makes for a successful team. We run the household together, each responding for their chores. We support each other, and spend a lot of time talking together. My family has taught the value of paying attention to the needs and feelings of people around you, and I definitely want to stick to this in my teaching job. Paying attention to the needs of my colleagues and making sure we communicate daily, I want to help to make the team successful, and both students and teachers happy.
- I’ve never worked anywhere, but I can share with you an example from sports. I have always enjoyed playing soccer with friends. We joined a local league five years ago, and finished last the first season. Instead of hanging our heads down though, it motivated us to work harder, and to learn from more successful teams. Because soccer is a team sport, and even with average players you can still win, should you play as a team, have a good strategy, stamina, and a bit of luck. We worked on our strategy and stamina, and after progressing higher and higher each year, we managed to win the local league last year. Of course it isn’t professional level and a big achievement, but I still feel it taught me a lot about importance of teamwork, and how I can contribute to it. I hope to transfer this knowledge to the corporate environment.
- I worked as a part of a successful team in my last and only job at McDonald’s. And I believe it is because of the philosophy of the company, the exact processes they have in place for everything. As long as each employee takes care of their duties, the entire operation works like a well-oiled machine, and customers get their (junk) food as quickly as possible, tasting exactly as they love it. Having said that, in order to make this happen people in the workplace should respect each other, and have the right attitude to work. I felt that was my role, and I can say I managed it well.
- It has never happened to me so far, and it is perhaps the reason no. 1 why I am with you in this interview. I had two jobs before, but climate wasn’t good in any of them. People competed instead of cooperating, and I experienced countless pointless conflicts and pity games in the workplace. I want to assure you that I tried to do something with the situation and bring some harmony to the team, but my attempts failed. The relationships of other team members were just too rotten to be repaired. Anyway, now it is behind me and I hope for a better teamwork experience in your place.
- I do not have such an experience, because I’ve been a lonely wolf up to this point. Let me explain. First I worked in a small retail store, and I was the only person responsible for everything, including ordering merchandise and cleaning the premises. Then I worked as a freelance editor, cooperating with a variety of clients, ranging from individual publishers to media houses. But now I finally want to change it, and hope to work as a part of a successful team in some meaningful NGO, ideally in your organization. And while I’ve never belonged to a successful team I believe I know what it takes to belong to one, and am ready to give this my 100%.
Remember that your attitude matters more than anything else to the people sitting across the table. Perhaps you have never worked in a team, or you did but it was a failure. Fair enough if you can talk about it openly. They key is to demonstrate that you understand the importance of teamwork, like to belong to a team, and want to contribute with your effort and attitude to the success of the team they have in place, whatever it may be. Whether you talk about a team at work, school, sports club, or even your family is of secondary importance here.
I hope it helps, and do not forget to check also sample answers to other tricky interview questions you may face:
- Tell me about a time when you found it difficult to work with someone.
- Why do you want to be a teacher?
- Tell us about a time you didn’t have enough data to make a good decision.